Tax penalty threat.

Accountants are warning self-assessment clients that they face penalties if they continue to file tax returns at the last minute, writes Damian Wild.

Some accountants wrote to clients as early as April warning them to provide details of their income and expenditure for the last tax year before November at the latest or face incurring extra charges above and beyond normal self-assessment fees.

‘It’s getting more common,’ said Francesca Lagerberg, senior consultant at the ICAEW’s Tax Faculty. ‘But it’s quite a savvy way of doing business.’

Lagerberg said most accountants were passing on the additional charges to avoid a repeat of the last-minute rushes that have taken place every year since self-assessment was introduced.

This would also remove the danger of accountants simply not being able to process all the returns they receive at the last minute. ‘Accountants are warning up-front so clients can’t turn round on 1 February and say you didn’t process my return in time,’ said Lagerberg.

ACCA head of tax Chas Roy-Chowdury said the policy was likely to be targeted at certain groups. ‘There has been a problem with clients who are always late,’ he said.

– Filing deadline advice Services/1125602.

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